Well everyone....We made it. The NBA season starts tomorrow. I can't contain my excitement. This has the makings of a classic NBA season. So many story lines. So many questions. Brandon and I went through a full NBA Season preview in Sunday's episode. But I had a few more thoughts. So I thought I'd pose my major question for each team going into the season. Here we go folks. Enjoy the season.
Atlanta Hawks – How is this team still good?One reason: Danny Ferry. If this team is as good as I predict them to be, they will make the playoffs and be a frisky first round opponent. Ferry has shed The contracts of Marvin Williams, joe Johnson and they didn't overpay josh smith. Oh and this teams ceiling is the same as it was with those guys for a fraction of the price. Can we start the Ferry for Executive of the Year campaign yet?
Boston Celtics – Should they trade Rajon Rondo?
Short answer: Yes. The longer answer is, maybe. And only because the Celtics need to decide what they are and what they want to be. Right now they are a team with one blue chip player and that player has a torn ACL. Do they want to build their future around that player (who we all know to be hard to coach and a little bit of a headcase) and make this guy a lifelong Celtic? Or...take the assets you can get from him (draft picks, cap space, veterans) and build a team. It’s a tough spot for Danny Ainge to be in. Trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce last summer ushered in the rebuild. He’s got to either commit to that rebuild or convince Rondo to commit. Otherwise, they are just bad and going no where.
Brooklyn Nets – Is Jason Kidd a legitimate NBA coach?
Count me among the Jason Kidd skeptics. I have nothing against him. He may very well be a great coach. I am just not convinced. Jason Kidd played in the league a year ago. He guarded Deron Williams last season. I have a feeling this will not go well.
Charlotte Bobcats – How big of a difference will Al Jefferson make?
Let's be honest. The Bobcats' goal this year is to just improve. They want to have a higher win total than the previous two seasons and they want to see growth in their young core. Al Jefferson will go a long way to helping achieve both of these goals. His presence will create spacing and will lead to multiple opportunities for the young perimeter players to develop. Will it translate to wins? That remains to be seen. But they will be better. And it will be because of Al.
Chicago Bulls – Are they the biggest threat to Miami?
I personally think Indiana is the team most likely to take down Miami in the east this year. But Chicago is a legit threat. They are arguably the best defensive team in the league and they had one of the most admirable playoff runs last season without most of their players. This year they add a healthy and very motivated Derek Rose? Be afraid Miami.
Cleveland Cavaliers – What will they get out of Andrew Bynum?
One of the many teams who's ceiling is depending totally on the health of one of its players. The Cavs have amassed a lot of young talent via 4 top 4 draft picks in the past 3 drafts. But the key to a deep playoff push is Bynum. I am not confident he will be much of a contributor for them, considering he's just been cleared to practice and spent all of last year in Philly bowling and impersonating Frederick Douglass.
Dallas Mavericks – Really, this is the supporting cast your giving Dirk Nowitzki?
You know what? Dirk doesn't care. He's still celebrating the 2011 championship. Moving on.
Denver Nuggets – Are they good or did they overachieve a little last year?
I think this team overachieved last year and will take a step back this season. They lost last years coach of the year and lost Andre Iguodala. No Galinari for half the season. The tiny crack in the championship window this team had open has slammed shut. But they won't be top lottery pick bad. They are slowly playing themselves into NBA no mans land. The middle.
Detroit Pistons – Can Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith limit the bad shots?
This might be the biggest question of the entire season. If these two guys can figure out how to play together and go through their two studs down low, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, this team has the potential to really make some noise in the East. Nothing in either of their pasts leads me to believe this will happen. But if it does, look out. A 5 seed is not out of the question for these guys.
Golden State Warriors – Can Stephen Curry’s ankle stay healthy?
Outside of Kobe's Achilles there may be no more important body part this season. If Steph can stay healthy this team has a serious shot at the west finals. Last season was the first season of his career that Curry was healthy. I fear it won't repeat itself.
Houston Rockets – Can Dwight Howard get back to Orlando Dwight?
Yes. Listen, the tales of Dwight Howard's demise have been greatly exaggerated. He's gonna come out this year and show everyone he's still the best big man in the league. I expect a monster season from Dwight.
Indiana Pacers – Is Paul George really a franchise player?
Regardless of my doubts about Paul George, the Pacers are all in on him. They gave him a max contract. He's their guy. This team is the biggest threat to Miami in the east in my opinion. Is Paul George good enough to be the main guy on a team to take down Miami? I'd have to say yes. So the max deal and title of franchise player are warranted.
LA Clippers – Will Doc Rivers make the difference?
Doc Rivers is a great coach. One of the best in the league. If there is a guy that can get the most out of this Clipper roster it's Doc. I expect big seasons out of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan and Doc will win coach of the year.
Lakers –LA What Kobe Bryant are we getting?
The Lakers announced yesterday that Kobe will not play in the season opener. Surprise! It's crazy to me that people actually thought that he would. He's 36 with a torn Achilles people. I expect him to come back at some point this season. But will he be the Kobe we are used to seeing? I have my doubts.
Memphis Grizzlies – Is their window closed?
Here’s the scariest thing if you are a Grizzlies fan. The Clippers, Rockets, Pelicans and Blazers all got better. And your team didn’t. Not to mention the Thunder and Spurs are still favorites to win the west. I fear the Grizzlies missed their shot at the finals last season.
Miami Heat – Can they 3-Peat?
This is the only question for them that matters. It’s their only goal. They bring back the big 3 and their band of merry men. They only lost Mike Miller. They also added Michael Beasely and a 60% Greg Oden. Beasely will provide terrific scoring off the bench for them and if they can even get an 80% Greg Oden for the playoff stretch, it’s an upgrade over Joel Anthony. All signs point to yes, they can and will 3 peat. But…I will caution you. It is tough for a team to win back to back titles. It’s very tough to three peat. And it’s damn near impossible to make FOUR straight finals.
Milwaukee Bucks – Why do people think this team is good?
I just can't figure out why all the basketball pundits and experts like this team. They were barely a playoff team last season, lost their two leading scorers and replaced them with OJ Mayo and.... I guess that's it. I don't see it. I think they will be bad. Really bad.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Health? Health? Health?
Please basketball gods. Can we get a full healthy season from Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. This team has alot of talent. If they can stay healthy it's not out of the question this is the sleeper team in the west.
New Orleans Pelicans – Can Anthony Davis make the leap to Superstar?
Not only can he. I predict he will. In the preseason ( yes, I realize it's only preseason) he was a monster. I see no reason that won't carry over to the regular season.
New York Knickerbockers – What is this team doing?
The dark secret no one in the league really wants to address is this Knicks team is a mess. Carmelo is a great player and one of the best scorers in the league. But the rest of this roster? It’s mediocre. Tyson Chandler is a very good defender. But he’s limited. Iman Shumpert is a good young developing guard. But are you depending on him for meaningful minutes in an NBA Finals. JR Smith is JR Smith. They brought in Andrea Bargnani and his guaranteed $11 million this year for some reason. Everyone else on this roster is either washed up or not ready for prime time yet. So, what are you doing New York? The team you currently have isn't winning a championship. Melo can opt out this summer and you still have 2 years and $22 mil per of Amare on the books. I’ll say it, since no one else will. It’s a mess.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Where does the scoring come from outside of Durant and Westbrook?
Here’s the thing to realize with this team. Durant and Westbrook are 2 of the 10 best players in the NBA. Those two are enough to rack up wins and have a record good enough for at least 3rd in the west. The problem for them comes at playoff time. We've seen multiple times that you NEED that third and in most cases 4th person to step up in a Conference or NBA Finals. And right now, I don’t know who that is for this team.
Orlando Magic – Will Oladipo win Rookie Of The year?
The smart money here is yes. He will run the point for them. He'll have the ball in his hands a lot. This team is really bad so he'll put up numbers. So yes. He's the favorite to win it. But don't sleep on Ben McElmore or Anthony Bennett who quietly had a pretty good preseason.
Philadelphia 76ers – Will they challenge for the worst record of all time?
This team is gonna be bad. How bad? Historically bad. Like, 8 wins bad? Sadly, it’s in play. Riddle this question; Would any of the players on this Sixers roster start on any of the playoff teams last season? Let me answer for you; Nope. Not a single one would. Their two best players, Thaddeus Lewis and Evan Turner, are role players on championship teams at best. The rest of the roster is full of young guys, old washed up vets and guys that are just collecting checks (I’m looking at you Kwame Brown). They will likely win 10 or so games and avoid infamy. But this season will lead to plenty of funny fans calling in on Philly Sports Radio.
Phoenix Suns – What is the plan here?
Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps they plan to go the Sixers route and just rebuild entirely. But the suns do have some actual decent pieces. They just traded Marcin Gortat for a top 12 protected draft pick from Washington. They could have as many as 4 first round picks next year. That could potentially be a talent loaded team. Maybe that's the plan? Who knows?
Portland Trailblazers – How good is Damian Lillard?
This team is going only where Damian Lillard takes them. He's the franchise. And rightfully so. He's legit. In 5 years, he will be on the short list of best point guards in the league. His production will take a dip this season. Not because he takes a step back. But because Portland has a bench this season and Lillard won't have to play 42 minutes a game this year.
Sacramento Kings – Who is the leader of this team?
It's a valid question. The answer is their leader is Demarcus "Boogie" Cousins. Your 2013-2014 Sacramento Kings everybody!
San Antonio Spurs – Is Kawhai Leonard ready to lead this team?
24 seconds. 1 rebound. 1 made free throw. 1 missed Ray Allen 3. That's it. That close to a title. Ugh. Anyway...what were we talking about?
Toronto Raptors – Will they be able to trade Rudy Gay?
Right now Toronto is in that dreaded NBA no mans land. Not bad enough for a high draft pick. And not good enough to make the playoffs. They are just idling in the middle with nowhere to go. They are going to have to start over. Whether they want to or not.
Utah Jazz – Can the fans be patient while these young guys grow into a contender?
Yes. I think the Utah fans are smart enough to see what the end game is here. And it's not this season. The Jazz won't win a lot of games this year. But they have a young core of Kanter, Favors, Hayward, and rookie Trey Burke. That has the potential to really be something. Utah fans will let it cook.
Washington Wizards - Will they make the playoffs?
Yes. This is a playoff team in the east. I worry that that is it though. I'm not sure what this teams ceiling is. They seem to have assembled their core and are ready to compete for the playoffs. Which means they won't be adding much more talent via the draft. In fact they just traded away their 1st round pick for next season (top 12 protected). So I'm not entirely sure where this team is headed. I would like to put this into the universe...In the Summer of 2017, the Wizards will be on the books for just $28 million for John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. They will have their young core and plenty of cap space. Guess who is a free agent that summer. Washington D.C.'s own...Kevin Durant. That's a long way off and alot will change between now and then. But I'm just putting it out there now.